Education union seeks to stop children from attending charter schools

July 3, 2013 in Blog

The Washington Education Association launched its long-anticipated legal attack on charter schools today. Lawyers for the powerful public-sector union filed suit in King County Superior Court to overturn voter-approved Initiative 1240. If successful, the lawsuit would deny access to charter schools to Washington school children.

Bi-partisan bill would increase funding to school classrooms

June 25, 2013 in Blog

The bi-partisan education reform bill, SB 5946, sponsored by senators Dammeier (R-Puyallup) and Frockt (D-Seattle) would direct more funding to the classroom to educate children, with a specific focus on early reading, the Learning Assistance Program, training new teachers, online learning and keeping kids in school.  Opponents of the bill, led by the powerful WEA union, do not like any limits on their control over where the money goes within the education bureaucracy.

Students are feeling the impact of higher-education cuts

June 22, 2013 in Blog

Yesterday, Katherine Long of The Seattle Times writes an informative report on how college tuition hikes are putting the squeeze on middle-class students. She describes how state cuts hurt students seeking to attend a public college or university.  She reports on the plight of Ruth Ferguson, Elizabeth Pring, Christina Xiao, Josh Grandinetti and other U.W. students who are finding it hard to finance their education. 

National Council on Teacher Quality study criticizes the educators of teachers

June 20, 2013 in Blog

The National Council on Teacher Quality released its first annual report, “Teacher Prep Review,” a comprehensive evaluation of the quality of the colleges and universities that train the nation’s teachers. Using a four-star rating system, the Review assesses the 1,130 institutions that train 99% of schoolteachers.

The study finds that three-quarters of teacher-training institutions in the U.S. earned only two stars. Researchers found that:

State Board of Education postpones vote on weakening School Achievement Index

June 18, 2013 in Blog

As I reported yesterday, the State Board of Education has postponed its vote to weaken Washington’s School Achievement Index.  The fifteen-member Board, led by Chairman Jeff Vincent, has decided to take up less controversial topics during its meeting tomorrow in Olympia. Click here to see the meeting agenda.

State Board of Education cancels vote to weaken School Achievement Index

June 17, 2013 in Blog

This Wednesday, June 19th, the State Board of Education meets in Olympia to discuss revisions to the School Achievement Index to reduce the rigor of the performance criteria used to evaluate schools, as I’ve explained here.  Originally, they planned to vote on the revisions after taking public testimony. 

Senate education reformers act to improve classroom instruction

June 11, 2013 in Blog

Over the weekend, the Senate Majority Coalition, in negotiations with the House Democrats over the budget, continued to push for ending the “Dance of the Lemons”; the practice of force-placing bad teachers from school to school, which I’ve written about here, here, and

House's new budget proposal approaches Senate budget

June 5, 2013 in Blog

This sunny afternoon House budget writers, led by Rep. Ross Hunter, (D-Bellevue), released a new budget proposal, significantly narrowing the distance between its budget and the Senate’s.  The new House proposal would spend $33.7 billion, yet still depends upon passage of a new tax. The Senate budget would spend $33.3 billion without increasing taxes. Here is a comparison of education spending in these budgets:

House: $14.97 billion for K-12 Public Schools, $2.99 billion for Higher Ed.

Senate: $15.165 billion for K-12 Public Schools, $3.04 for Higher Ed.

SB 5242 would help school principals protect our kids from bad teachers

June 4, 2013 in Blog

Yesterday in The Seattle Times, Jonathan Martin writes that parents of second-grade students in Room 105 at Seattle’s West Woodland Elementary realized their teacher was incompetent.  This teacher didn’t learn the names of the children, bungled attendance, didn’t assign math or reading work, didn’t grade homework, mumbled instead of teaching, didn’t return parents’ emails, and wrote inappropriate words on the blackboard.

State Board of Education working to weaken Achievement Index to make low-performing schools look better

May 31, 2013 in Blog

Well, it was bound to happen. Chairman Jeff Vincent and the 15 other members of the State Board of Education are quietly working to weaken the state's well-established and effective Public School Achievement Index. The Index was created in 2010 at the direction of the legislature. For three years now the Index has been informing parents and the public about how well our public schools are educating children. The information on the Index goes back to the 2007-08 school year.

Lawsuit against charter schools may be back

May 30, 2013 in Blog

As part of Washington Policy Center's ongoing I-1240 Follow-Up Project, we have anticipated an effort by the WEA union to seek a lawsuit to block implementation of the voter-passed charter school measure.  Earlier in the year the idea appeared to be dropped.  Now it looks like it's back. 

Washington Charter School Commission holds third meeting

May 28, 2013 in Blog

Today Washington's Charter School Commission holds its third meeting at the Bethaday Community Learning Space in southeast Seattle. See the agenda here.

The Commission will hear a presentation from the Gates Foundation about charter school management organizations and operators. The Commission will also be considering a proposal from the National Association of Charter School Organizers, proposed rules for the conduct of the Commission, and other business.

Officials Use Race to Set Academic Achievement Goals for School Children

May 22, 2013 in Blog

Today we released our new study: “Officials Use Race to Help Set Academic Achievement Goals,” available here

Last fall, the state Superintendent of Public Instruction and education officials at the state’s 295 school districts used student race as a factor in setting state, district and school-level academic achievement goals for tests in math and reading for 2012 through 2017.

Powerful Teachers’ Union Elects New President

May 16, 2013 in Blog

On April 27, 1,200 delegates of the powerful state teachers union, the Washington Education Association, gathered at a Representative Assembly meeting in Bellevue to elect new top executives.  The new union leaders will serve two-year terms.  The union president received a compensation package worth $186,000 in pay and benefits in 2010, the latest year for which figures are available.  

SB 5242 would end "Dance of the Lemons" in teachers’ placements

May 16, 2013 in Blog

Every public school principal is painfully familiar with being forced to send children to a classroom where she knows the teacher there is not the best fit, but the teacher's placement has been forced on the school by higher-ups at the central district. In an effort to improve classroom instruction, bad teachers are often shuffled from one school to another, an administrative tactic known among principals as "The Dance of the Lemons."